Specialist, Head of Sale, Greek Sales
The Greek Sale / Théodore Jacques Ralli (Greek, 1852-1909) Saints reliques (signed with initials (lower right); inscribed (on the reverse)oil on canvas)
Sold for €10,837.50 inc. premium
Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.How to sell
Our Greek Art specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.Find your local specialist
M. Katsanaki, Theodore Ralli, A.G. Leventis Foundation - A.G. Leventis Gallery, Athens 2018, no. 75, p. 337, fn. 74 (mentioned), p. 351 (catalogued), p. 165 (illustrated).
Painted by a 19th century master of prayer scenes, this captivating vignette of church genre and silent peasant piety evokes a noble sentiment of holy respect and deep-felt religiosity. Humility, veneration and meditation that no distraction seems able to dispel, endow the figures with a solemn grandeur that harmoniously match the evocative ambiance of the Orthodox church.
Dressed in traditional rural costumes and moulded by a warm invading light, the two young Greek maidens venerating the holy relics1 strongly contrast with the dark interior lit only by overhanging oil lamps and flickering candles. In the dim light, an Orthodox priest is faintly portrayed on the extreme left, while the sacred images painted on the background wall loom as transcendental presences, enhancing the poetry of the scene.
1 Ralli kept in his studio possessions a human skull shown in a photograph of his Paris studio, c. mid-1880s. (See M. Katsanaki, Theodore Ralli, A.G. Leventis Foundation - A.G. Leventis Gallery, Athens 2018, pp. 32, 127.) Also compare the mother-of-pearl box featured in the artist's emblematic La captive sold by Bonhams (The Greek Sale, May 19, 2021).